Champions League: Ronaldo and Bale set for final

Cristiano Ronaldo is winning his battle to be fit for Saturdays Champions League final. Picture: GettyCristiano Ronaldo is winning his battle to be fit for Saturdays Champions League final. Picture: Getty
Cristiano Ronaldo is winning his battle to be fit for Saturdays Champions League final. Picture: Getty
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti is confident Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale will be fit for this weekend’s Champions League final against Atletico Madrid, but is less certain about Karim Benzema and Pepe.

None of that quartet took part in full squad training yesterday, with Ronaldo exercising on his own out on the pitches at Valdebebas, while Bale, Pepe and Benzema trained indoors alongside long-term 
injury victim Jese.

Ronaldo had been due to start Madrid’s final Primera Division game of the season at home to Espanyol on Saturday after recovering from a hamstring injury but ended up sitting out the match after complaining of discomfort in the warm-up.

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Pepe did not feature as he continued to recover from a calf injury, while Benzema was replaced during the second half of the 3-1 win with an adductor problem. Bale did play the full 90 minutes, though.

Ancelotti revealed his only serious concerns were Pepe and Benzema. He said: “They’re the only two players about whom we have doubts. I’m neither optimistic nor pessimistic. I’m a realist and, as things stand right now, of course they wouldn’t be able to play.

“We have four days to the final and we’ll wait and see. If Pepe can’t play, [Raphael] 
Varane can play in his place.

“If there’s a risk of injury it’s best to leave them out.”

On world-record signing Bale, who has scored 21 goals in his first season at the Bernabeu despite being affected by various injuries, Ancelotti said: “He’s done specific work in the gym. He didn’t need to come out on the pitch in today’s session. There’s no problem, and I think those two [Bale and Ronaldo] are going to be able to play.

“He [Bale] had a problem initially, but when he found his best physical condition he was a very important player with good numbers in goals and 
assists. He’s very important for the team and it will be the same in the final.

“He’s very motivated because it’s the first Champions League final in his career so I’m sure that he’ll have a great game.”

Ronaldo already has a Champions League winners medal from his time at Manchester United, but the Portugal captain would relish the chance to lead Madrid to a long-awaited tenth European Cup crown.

The Fifa Ballon d’Or winner said: “I will be there on Saturday. I’m still not 100 per cent right now but I will be at the final. It’s something very important, we work throughout the year to play in finals and win them.

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“Nobody wants to miss a final that we’ve been searching for for many years. I want to help Real Madrid achieve it. I’m confident I’ll be 100 per cent for the final.

“La Decima [the 10th] is the trophy that all Madridistas want. I signed for this club to win titles like that.”